MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery County Commission made a vote of 3-2 Tuesday in favor of the proposal to increase the ad valorem tax on all taxable property in Montgomery County, except for the limits of the Town of Pike Road.
The increase would give the Montgomery Public Schools system a maximum of 22 mills, which is equal to $2.20 on each $100 of the assessed value of the taxable property. The system currently collects 10 mills. The increase would be for an additional 12 mills, which would bring $33 million more to MPS.
The decision comes just a day after an audit uncovered thousands of dollars of misused money in the hands of the Montgomery County School System.
Montgomery Public School Board Member Claire Weil took the stand at the hearing to address the recent state audit that found $700,00 in school fees and donations that were used inappropriately, but she said the findings shouldn’t affect the proposed tax increase.
“It’s my hope that those who dwell on the past actions of the Montgomery County Board of Education and MPS will see that we are making great strides, and will not stop until Montgomery has the best education possible,” said Weil.
Several people in the community agreed with needing more public school funding.
“I know that the misappropriation of funds concerns people and I hear that, but that should not be the reason that we choke off funding for schools and making our children suffer because of the actions of a few people. It’s not right,” said one public hearing attendee in favor of the tax.
Others felt that now is not the right time for the tax increase.
"Why now? It’s not the time to add another tax to us. We are about taxed out,” said a public hearing attendee opposing the tax.
Some of the commissioners are confident that MPS can turn things around and make a difference.
“As soon as the bad apples are taken out of our school system, then I will be on the front line fighting for financial help for our schools,” said Montgomery County Commission Vice Chairman Ronda Walker.
MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore said ultimately the voters will make the final decision, but she thanked the county commission for its support.
“They did what they needed to do [Tuesday], and that was a very positive step in behalf of the school system and we appreciate what the commission has done,” said Moore.
The vote on Tuesday night’s resolution is in support of sending the proposed tax increase on to state lawmakers. Only if the act is passed in the legislature will the issue move on for a vote of the people.